Ecological illiteracy exists, in part, because students may be technologically advanced but often lack intellectual curiosity about their natural environment. Botanical illiteracy, often referred to as “plant blindness,” results from several interacting factors, including a lack of interest in plants and insufficient exposure to plant science before students reach college. We were interested in understanding how a hands-on activity planting native plant species translates across undergraduate majors in improving botanical literacy, as well as increasing awareness and concern about the loss of plant and pollinator biodiversity worldwide. We conducted a survey of both life-science majors and nonmajors to examine their attitudes toward native plants and pollinators. We also examined the change in attitudes of science majors following a hands-on native garden planting activity. We found that life-science majors generally had a stronger understanding and valuation of native plants and pollinators than nonmajors. We also found that life-science majors demonstrated an increase in their knowledge and valuation of native plants and pollinators after participation in the gardening activity. We suggest that this type of activity is important in alleviating plant blindness and in increasing ecological literacy, even among already knowledgeable science students.

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